Test results show rift in ethnic, economic student backgrounds | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Test results show rift in ethnic, economic student backgrounds

William Ferchland
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune file / Sierra House Elementary school third graders work on math problems during class.

While overall strides were made from last year, results on standardized state tests given in the 2005-06 school year show a rift in the academic performances between students with differences in ethnicities, gender and economic status in Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

The Standardized Testing and Reporting Program, which centers on English and math, has five categories ranking student scores: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic and far below basic.

The average percentage of students who scored advanced or proficient in English rose two points to 42 percent, compared to 40 percent in 2005.

Students in grades second to seventh did far better on math in 2006 with an average of 48 percent of pupils in the advanced or proficient range compared to an average 39 percent the year before.

In first-year algebra, an average of 33 percent eighth-graders to high school juniors scored in advanced to proficient, 6 percentage points higher than 2005’s average percentage.

“We had a very good growth in math across the district,” district Superintendent Jim Tarwater said.

“To me that’s a banner,” he added.

But a look at the 2006 scores display a few chasms between student subgroups, such as whites and Hispanics. In English, an average of 56 percent of white students in second to 11th grade scored in the advanced and proficient range. An average of 63 percent of the same students in second to seventh grades scored above basic in math.

An average of 21 percent of Hispanic students, however, scored well in English while an average of 28 percent scored above basic in math.

In addition, females students outpaced their male counterparts in both math and English as did those with economic advantages when compared to economically disadvantaged students.

Yet the percentage of Hispanic students being included in the advanced and proficient categories jumped from 2005 to 2006 and gains were sometimes in the double digits.

Tarwater said additions of teachers intensifying efforts on certain student subgroups such as English learners should help raise scores in the future.

Shortening achievement gaps between student subgroups, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, is a top priority when he starts his second term in January.

“We are working to address this problem by providing struggling schools extra resources and additional interventions and with better training for teachers,” he said. “But clearly we must work harder, faster and with more focus to narrow this gap and to permanently close it.”

Since 2003, when the tests were aligned to reflect state standards, the percentage of all California students scoring in the advanced or proficient categories has increased 7 percentage points in English-language arts and 5 points in math.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report

Where to go:

A breakdown of scores by schools, school districts and counties is available at http://star.cde.ca.gov

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